I’m sure you’ve heard the theory that smell is associated with memory, like how the scent of McDonald's reminds you of the three cat boxes you have to clean when you get home. My sense of smell is terrible so I guess my ears had to make up for my nose’s incompetence.
Beatles bring to mind my gym-side locker in Middle School and cafeteria lunches but mostly our family road trip to the Florida Keys. I remember my brother drawing ridiculous pictures of Ringo, my dad falling in a mud bank on the side of the road trying to climb a tree and a giant sculpture of a manatee holding a mailbox. All this just by starting up Sgt. Pepper’s.
Simon and Garfunkel are pure Arizona. 'El Condor Pasa' recreates driving through the Painted Desert while 'The Boxer' brings images of the train’s lounge car, ice caves, fire ants, and Winslow, Arizona.
Ani Difranco is synonymous with one name: Pam Sprecher. My best friend throughout my first few years of college, Difranco sets off memories of her dancing around the dorm at 3AM and the fact that she’s the only roommate I’ll probably ever have that stored pounds of pig intestines in the refrigerator for most of our Sophomore year.
College is also the first time I was introduced to They Might Be Giants so, naturally, hearing 'Birdhouse in Your Soul' conjures up images of the animation room, the Stop-Motion closet (er, I mean, room) and the frigid computer lab.
Equipment Room employee turned freelance animator (finally) Seann Corrigan introduced me to his sister’s band, the World Inferno Friendship Society just before our class headed up to the Ottawa Animation Festival in 2002. Now images of the capital building and hostel are mixed in with shouts of “Hey, Peter Lorre!”
Japan brought a wave of new music (well, new to me) so it’s interesting to see which artist invokes what recollection of my home away from home.
Josh Ritter? I get a vivid image of driving across the red bridge leading out of my town along with rows and rows of rice fields stretching from Kannari to Semine.
System of a Down? Brilliant for driving at 12:00 at night when you’re half asleep and it’s freezing in the car despite the fact that you have to heat turned all the way up.
Whenever I hear Leonard Nimoy’s rendition of ‘The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins’ I always think of Angela’s enormous house (it use to be a Post Office) in Hanayama and more specifically, of Jeff doing his strange wavy-arm dance.
I guess a lot of these memories are also associated with driving, since long trips give me time to listen to an album from start to finish.
Neko Case has been the most recent addition to this collection, carrying images of weekends in Brooklyn and fall in the Hamptons mixed with the back roads of Middletown.
An important point in closing: I wouldn't even call half of the music listed above my favorites by any means. But, I'll still throw on 'Fixing a Hole' when I want to think of warmer climates. Hey, it's better than Jimmy Buffet.